BRITISH
Airways’ former subsidiary Deutsche BA is coming back to haunt the flag carrier
by launching competing services to Berlin.

The
airline, now known as DBA, will launch thrice-daily flights during the week from
Gatwick to Berlin from November 10. BA offloaded the carrier to Nuremberg-based
company INTRO in July for one euro.

As
part of the deal, BA agreed to invest £25 million in its former airline and
underwrite its 16 aircraft for a year at a cost of £24 million.

BA
operates the Berlin route from Heathrow, but could see passengers transferring
to DBA because of its £50 lead-in return fare, including taxes, and
early-morning departure times.

A
source said: “BA is essentially funding its own competition. INTRO chief executive
Hans Rudolf Wohrl got the airline for a symbolic fee and managed to get BA to
continue to fund it. It’s a fantastic deal.”

Under
the sell-off, BA will receive a cut of any future DBA profits until June 2006
but any profit is unlikely to match the money BA has pumped into the airline. A
DBA spokeswoman said: “The idea behind the airline is it will serve everyone –
leisure and business clients.”

BA
used the airline for domestic German services and some routes to mainland
Europe from its Munich base.

DBA
currently operates to all of the main German centres – including Munich,
Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Stuttgart – and it could extend UK services from these
destinations.

BA
chief executive Rod Eddington nearly sold the airline to EasyJet for £100
million in 2002 but the no-frills carrier pulled out earlier this year. A BA
spokeswoman said: “DBA is independent so there’s nothing to stop it launching
this route. We don’t see it as competition because we fly from Heathrow.”